Ashkelon Marina – Israel
According to Hillel, the difference between Ashkelon Marina and Tel Aviv is, this marina is a very large marina that holds about 600 boats, caters to the local needs and foreign flag boats that sail in the Middle Eastern Mediterranean all crossing the canal. So, their price list and services are designed to accomodate these two different types of groups of boat owners.
Located 198nm south of Cyprus, 120 nm east Port Said; this southern gate to the Mediterranean bridges both the sea and desert together. It’s also the central spot for international rallies and regattas. Every year about 80 boats participate in a peace rally known as the East Mediterranean Yacht Rally (EMYR) which cruises from the port in Istanbul, down along Turkey’s coast to Northern Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, then Egypt. The rally starts in late April and arrives in Ashkelon the middle of June. The whole trip takes 67 days (1825 miles) and includes 27 ports (6 countries). Other rallies start in Israel and go to the Red Sea and back.
As for the marina itself, it’s a jewel for families with young children. You’ll find many liveaboards here that home (internet) school their children and it’s pet friendly. Other amenities include: showers, laundry, wi-fi, haul out, maintenance, a 100 ton travel lift and many social activities.
A new modern design in breakwaters allows water to penetrate through the breakwater to keep the water in the marina clean.
One of the things that impressed me, was the fact that all 6th graders in Ashkelon are required to spend two hours per week at the marina throughout the whole year. It’s actually mandatory in their school curiculumn and they can have voluntary courses in the afternoon as well. According to their school prinicipal, this activity has the most added value than any other class. The kids are facing values that usually are hard to find in regular normal education processes like team work, making decisions under pressure, self discipline and a whole set of values that are very important to them. This is one of the few places that they can meet these challenges. These young adults start off learning to sail an Optimist Sailboat, then go on to a larger boat that holds up to 15 people. They also learn to row, kayak, windsurf, and canoe for their “wet” activities. In bad weather, an indoor class may teach a bit of maintenance. Since this side of the Mediterranean is relatively clean, and it has some wonderful archeological sites under the water as well, the marina has a diving club and school starting as young as ages six or seven. (This is definitely something I’m putting on my list to do on my next visit to Israel.)
“We are considered amongst the cruisers as very friendly and professional marina,” says Hillel, “and we love to have foreign flag boats come over.”
The beach here is rejuvenating, great for walking, collecting rocks, shells, windsurfing or just soaking up the sun with a good book. If you are do plan on visiting Ashkelon Marina, check out their website for specific requirements before entering their port.